The History of the Macintosh Mouse (Apple Mouse)

Apple Inc. is responsible for the mouse interface standard used by today’s computers. Apple did not invent the mouse, but just like Apple’s popularization of the graphical operating system, the company made the mouse a fundamental part of the personal computer.

The Apple mouse has been evolving since the early days of Lisa and Apple II.


The first generation of Apple mice used DB-9 connectors. These early mice were somewhat clunky and heavier than the later ADB (Apple Desktop Bus) and USB mice. Apple released its first mouse in 1983 with the introduction of the Lisa computer.

The Lisa Mouse (A9M0050), designed by outside firm Hovey-Kelley for Apple Computer, was the first commercially available mouse. It was similar to the mouse created by Xerox in the 1970s to use with its Xerox PARC Alto.

The Lisa Mouse used a steel ball, instead of the rubber ball found on subsequent Apple mice. Another difference was the Lisa Mouse’s squeeze-release connector. Later Apple DB-9 mice used two thumb screws to secure their connectors to the mouse port.

Apple decided to go with a single button mouse because their extensive research suggested that users found it the easiest to use. The “one-button” philosophy remained in place for over 20 years and has fueled countless arguments over the wisdom of this decision.

Apple rolled out a new mouse for the introduction of the Macintosh in 1984. Although similar to the Lisa Mouse, Apple changed the styling to match the Macintosh’s unique design.

Gone were the formal Art Deco lines of the Lisa Mouse, replaced with a thicker beveled edge, a larger mouse button, and a slightly darker brown beige color. Apple replaced the Lisa Mouse’s steel ball with a rubber one, but the Macintosh Mouse (M0100) was otherwise mechanically the same.

After the introduction of the Macintosh Plus in 1986, Apple made minor revisions to the mouse mechanism and changed the connector to a more round shape that used the same thumb screw method of connecting to the mouse port as the original Macintosh Mouse.

In 1987, Apple again refined the Macintosh Mouse. Other than minor mechanism changes, the most striking difference was the change from beige to platinum, the blue-gray color that Apple used on all its new products at this time.

A few months after the introduction of the Macintosh, Apple introduced the Apple IIc with a mouse of its own that was very similar to the original Macintosh Mouse.

The IIc Mouse had a creamy-beige color and a slightly modified design that was somewhat sleeker than the Macintosh Mouse’s blockier shape.

Unlike the textured case of the original Macintosh Mouse, the IIc Mouse had a smooth case.

The IIc Mouse was uniformly the same color, unlike the original Macintosh Mouse with its contrasting dark brownish gray accents on the mouse button and cable.

The IIc Mouse was designed to use the IIc’s dual purpose joystick/mouse port. The IIc Mouse had circuitry to identify itself as a mouse and not a joystick when connected to an Apple IIc.

That was the only substantial difference, other than styling, with the Macintosh Mouse. Due to only minor differences, Apple labeled the IIc Mouse (M0100) with the exact same model number as the Macintosh Mouse.

Apple made two changes to the IIc mouse over its life. The IIc Mouse (A2M4015) was essentially the same with minor changes in the mouse mechanism and connector style.

The IIc Mouse (A2M4035), introduced in 1988, took on the identical physical appearance and platinum coloring of the later model Macintosh Mouse (M0100).

This IIc Mouse was compatible with Apple IIc, the Apple II Mouse peripheral card, and any Macintosh with a DB-9 mouse port.

Actually, all versions of the IIc Mouse will work with any Macintosh with a DB-9 mouse port, but not all versions of the other DB-9 mice will work with the Apple IIc.

About half way into 1984, Apple realesed the AppleMouse II (M0100/A2M2050), which had the same appearance as the IIc Mouse but was not compatible with the Apple IIc.

The AppleMouse II could also be used with any Macintosh with a DB-9 mouse port. The AppleMouse II was sold with the Apple II Mouse peripheral card for use with the Apple II, Apple II Plus, and Apple IIe. It was bundled with graphics software called MousePaint.

MousePaint was very similar to MacPaint graphics software introduced by Apple in the same year for use on the Macintosh. Apple later repackaged the original Apple Mouse IIc and shipped it with this bundle since it was also compatible with the Macintosh platform.

The AppleMouse II and its successors were never included as standard equipment on any computer. Since the original Apple Mouse IIc was compatible across all platforms, Apple renamed the mouse in 1985, Apple Mouse (A2M4015), and offered it as an optional purchase for all computers and sold it separate from the Apple II Mouse peripheral card.

It featured an updated mechanism and the new uniform rounded cable connector. In 1986, Apple re-branded the AppleMouse II as the Apple Mouse IIe (A2M2070). The three-year-old Apple IIe had by then become the de facto standard for the Apple II platform.

The Apple Mouse IIe was a repackaged Macintosh Mouse with no modifications. The first version was the same beige color as the original Macintosh Mouse. The final version was the same platinum color as the later version platinum Macintosh Mouse.

The Apple IIgs introduced the world to the Apple Desktop Bus Mouse (A9M0331) in September 1986. Apple would use Apple Desktop Bus (ADB) compatible mice until the introduction of Universal Serial Bus (USB) compatible mice with the iMac in 1998.

The Apple Desktop Bus Mouse was far lighter than the older DB-9 mice and it was easier to connect it to the computer. Instead of using a clunky DB-9 connector with thumb screws, it used a hot-swappable mini-DIN connector that could be daisy-chained with the keyboard.

The Apple Desktop Bus Mouse was wedge shaped and did not really have a natural feel, but for any Apple fan, it is a classic and shipped with Macintosh computers under the family number G5431 for the next six years.

The Apple Desktop Bus Mouse was uniformly platinum in color, including the single button, with only the cables and connectors retaining a contrasting darker gray color.

By 1993, Apple replaced the original wedge-shaped Apple Desktop Bus Mouse with the Apple Desktop Bus Mouse II (M2706).

The Apple Desktop Bus Mouse II was a better overall design and with its rounded edges, it was much easier on the hand. This tear-drop mouse still had only one button like all Apple’s previous mice and like the Apple Desktop Bus Mouse, it was uniformly platinum in color.

Apple released a black version of this mouse to match the black cases of the Macintosh TV and black Performa 5400-series Macs.

With the introduction of the iMac in 1998, Apple unveiled the Apple USB Mouse (M4848), its first USB mouse. These were generally unpopular, but otherwise very stylish. They were lampooned for their hockey puck shape and were very uncomfortable to use for an extended period of time.

They tended to cause the user to draw up the hand in order to maneuver and click at the same time. Apple included this mouse with all Macs for the next two years.

The mouse that shipped with every iMac during this time matched the color or “flavor” of the iMac it shipped with. Apple produced this mouse in the following colors: Bondi blue, blueberry, grape, lime, strawberry, tangerine, and graphite.

Apple introduced the Pro Mouse (M5769) in 2000 and retired the hockey puck shortly thereafter. The Pro Mouse is similar in design to the Apple Desktop Bus Mouse II, but is uniformly rounded on it edges or pill-shaped instead of tear-drop shaped.

The Pro Mouse’s case is translucent, exposing its innards. Unlike every mouse Apple sold up to that time, the Pro Mouse used an LED instead of a rubber ball to detect movement.

Soon, Apple began to ship the Pro Mouse with every computer it sold making Apple the first computer company to offer such a mouse as standard equipment. The Pro Mouse was originally black with a transparent shell.

Apple replaced the black Pro Mouse with a white one across its entire product line beginning with the flat panel G4 iMacs in early 2003. Apple released a wireless version of the one-button Pro Mouse in September 2003.

The Apple Wireless Mouse (A1015) connected through Bluetooth. It was powered by two AA non-rechargeable lithium batteries and had no power switch.

In 2005, Apple introduced a redesigned version of the Apple Pro Mouse it called the Mighty Mouse (A1152).

The Mighty Mouse offered users up to four independently programmable buttons, without compromising simplicity for users who preferred just a single-button mouse.

The Mighty Mouse also introduced a scroll ball that let users scroll in any direction – vertically, horizontally and even diagonally. The Mighty Mouse could function seamlessly as a single unit or as a multi-button mouse.

The Mighty Mouse also had a touch-sensitive top shell, force-sensing side squeeze buttons, and auditory feedback when squeezing and scrolling the mouse produced by a small built-in speaker.

In July 2006, Apple introduced a wireless version of the Mighty Mouse (A1197) that incorporated a more precise laser-driven device with built-in intelligent battery conserving logic.

The wireless Mighty Mouse used Bluetooth to connect to Apple desktop and laptop computers. It operated on either one or two AA batteries.

The wireless Mighty Mouse featured a laser-tracking engine that was up to 20 times more sensitive to surface detail than LED optical mice.

Today’s Apple mouse no longer abides by the one-button standard Apple first defined when it shipped its first mouse in 1983. With Apple’s introduction of the Mighty Mouse, Apple finally gave Mac users the mouse they had wanted for years – a mouse that has multi-button functionality. It is doubtful that Apple will ever again ship another one-button mouse.


Mac Issues

At Mac Issues, we're dedicated to helping you learn how to use your Macbook properly. With tutorials, how-to troubleshooting guides & real reviews, hopefully we can make your day that little bit easier.

Read more from Mac Issues